For days I’ve been thinking about the perfect time to write my story, for days I’ve been putting it to the side, yet for days I’ve been waiting for this chance — the chance to finally feel like its okay to do this.
I am currently sitting in a computer room in my school, constantly checking to my left and right just in case someone is glancing over my screen reading what I am writing.
Three days ago I was on the bus on my way to the Dream Act leadership training, and throughout the whole ride there I thought to myself why I should and shouldn’t “tell my story”, or go “public”, and let everyone else know. I hesitated ( and I still do), but I figured WHY NOT? Although being in this situation does not, in ANY WAY, define who I am, who I am capable of becoming, and what I am capable of doing, it surely and unjustly limits me.
When I came at age eight, I had no idea I was permanently staying here. I was only reuniting with my mom after six long and torturous months of separation. I believed it was just a vacation, and within three months I would be back in Ecuador with all my friends.Almost ten years later, here I am, sitting in this computer room, still living in this country, living with millions of uncertainties and concerns.
Unlike many others, I always knew I was undocumented, I just never thought it would affect me as much as it has. I remember clearly the day we were about to find out who passed the driver’s ED written exam. I jokingly called out my name, which was followed by the echo of my own name actually being called out. I HAD passed! Only two people passed the test and I was one of them!!!! I was going to be able to drive…
“wait stop– no remember you are undocumented so you cannot get a license” the voice inside my head reminded me. “Fine” I thought to myself.
I wouldn’t be able to afford a car anyways so there would be no point. The paper stated it expired in two years, I was sure my situation would get settled by then. From there on, the endless list of excuses, lies and the denial began. I take this time to apologize to all of those friends who I had to lie in order to avoid explaining my embarrassing situation as I was scared you would look at me differently and reject me.
I remember junior year, the most stressful year in high school for anyone who is trying to get into a good college and maintain a good GPA while still managing with SAT’s and other AP exams. I was still certain that my situation would miraculously get fixed. I kept putting the whole “college” idea off while everyone proudly stated the five colleges they applied to, and the other seven they got accepted to. Everyone asked me what I was planning on doing and where I wanted to go. I just acted nonchalant about everything and told them I still had time, and that I would eventually figure it out. In reality, I was dying. The whole time I felt so trapped, so unable to respond or react. I felt detached from the rest. I felt like I never had the chance to move forward while every single person around me did, and clearly had a bright future ahead of them. But no, not me. . The idea of knowing that everyone around me was heading towards success while I was going to be stuck in the middle of everything was hurtful. I was always moving backwards, never moving forward. There’s this brick wall stopping me, a brick wall that never crumbles, and I constantly keep hitting it. That brick wall that shoots my dreams, and kills my hopes, and ends everything I have worked so hard for. Its exhausting — the thought of always maintaining hope, and always being let down. Its exhausting — maintaining the thought of things turning out well in the end.
Despite everything, Here I Am, and I am not going anywhere. I am in my second semester of college. Tuition paid out of my own pocket with absolutely no financial help. I am Still here, still fighting, still hopeful, and still uncertain. But for how long? There have been plenty of times where I want to simply quit, drop out of school, leave this place, pack my bags, and start all over. But please help me imagine how. Where am I supposed to go when everything I had in Ecuador has vanished? Please tell me how I can possibly leave behind everything that has taken me so long to build? How am I supposed to take my dreams, my goals, my aspirations and everything else in between, put it in a box and forget about it? Where does all my hard work go to?
I HAVE the option to give up, but I will not take it. I have accomplished way too much even though I am very limited. I have graduated high school, I have entered college, and even with all these preoccupations, I have still managed to get excellent grades. I will not accept giving up as my only option. I have made SURE that it is not my only option. I have promised myself over and over that I will not become part of the statistic. I will not be another Latina out of school with an ordinary job. I have worked too hard for this. I have too many dreams and too many aspirations.
Yes, being undocumented limits me, but believe me being undocumented won’t stop me.